The Holy Apostle Hermas Hermas was one of the Seventy Apostles. He is mentioned in the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans. Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes and the brethren which are with them (Romans 16:14). Hermas was a Greek by birth but lived in Rome for a long time. He was a bishop in Philipoupolis and ended his life as a martyr. He compiled a very instructive book called “The Shepherd” according to revelations from an angel of God. Hermas was a wealthy man, but, because of his sins and the sins of his sons, he fell into extreme poverty. Once while in prayer, a man appeared to him in white raiment with a staff in his hand and told him that he was an angel of repentance, who was sent to be with him until the end of his life. The angel gave him twelve commandments:
- Believe in God;
- Live in simplicity and innocence; do not speak evil; give alms to all who beg;
- Love truth and avoid falsehood;
- Preserve chastity in your thoughts;
- Learn patience and generosity;
- Know that a good and an evil spirit attend every man;
- Fear God and fear not the devil;
- Perform every good act, and refrain from every evil deed;
- Pray to God from the depth of your soul with faith that your prayer will be fulfilled;
- Guard against melancholy, the sister of doubt and anger;
- Test true and false prophecies;
- Guard against every evil desire.
The Holy Martyr Hermeas Hermeas served as an imperial soldier until old age, at which time he suffered for Christ the King. Since the evil judge tried in vain to dissuade him from following the Faith of Christ and failed to convince him to offer sacrifices to the idols, the judge then gave orders that Hermeas’s teeth be knocked out with a stone and the skin peeled from his face with a knife. After that they threw him into a fiery furnace, but the grace of God saved him, and he stood up. Then, by order of the judge, he drank a bitter poison that was given to him by a magician, but the poison did him no harm. Witnessing this, the magician was so amazed that he openly confessed Christ, for which he was immediately beheaded. Afterward, they gouged out both of Hermeas’s eyes, but he did not grieve. Instead he cried out to the judge: “Take for yourself these bodily eyes that gaze upon the vanity of the world. I have eyes in the heart, by which I clearly see the light of the truth.” He was then hung upside down by the feet, and those who did this to him were blinded and staggered around him. St. Hermeas beckoned them to come to him, laid his hands on them and restored their sight by prayer to the Lord. Witnessing all of this, the judge became as enraged as a lion, drew a knife and severed the head of this godly man. Christians secretly removed the body of Hermeas and honorably buried it. His relics gave healing to all the sick and afflicted. St. Hermeas suffered in the year 166 A.D., during the reign of Emperor Antoninus.
The Holy Martyr Philosophus This martyr of Christ was born in the vicinity of Alexandria. During the time of the persecution of Christians, St. Philosophus did not want to deny Christ the Lord before the pagan princes and judges. For this, the pagans subjected him to violent tortures. After he was tortured in various ways, they finally placed him on a soft bed, tied his hands and feet, and had a harlot come to him and to lure him into sin. When St. Philosophus sensed that the sin of passion was being aroused in him from the touch of the woman’s hand, he placed his tongue between his teeth, bit if off and spit it in the face of the depraved one. Because of this, the passion subsided in him, and the immoral woman was so horrified that she immediately fled from him. Afterward he was beheaded, in about the year 252 A.D., while still young in years, and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of eternal youth. () () In the Greek Prologue, Philosophus is commemorated on May 1.
Hymn Of Praise Saint Hermeas And The Magician The old and evil magician, a poisoner and liar; In everything very small, but great in fear-- Bitter poison, to the holy Hermeas, he gave: From this poison, even the serpents would hide! Hermeas, the poison drank: death did not claim him, And the old magician saw this and trembled all over. "Oh, what a wonderful miracle!" he cried out, "Over the soldier of God, the poison has no power! Let be hidden the dark days of my life, Let be erased the years of my shameful life! To foolish deceits, my entire life I dedicated, My whole life to the service of these idols senseless. And just today, in great fear I see That the One True God, the God of Hermeas is. Christ crucified, the Lord of the heavens-- Only His miracles are truth. From now on, Christ's I am: O Christ, forgive me. As thy least servant, You, O Good One, receive me. Forgive me my all-too-many sins, forgive me. For You I will sacrifice body and lifeless bones!" Bitterly repentant, the old man uttered these words, And at once he was cleansed of falsehood and fears. Among the Christians, himself, he openly numbered. The sword over him flashed and, in his blood, baptized him. Reflection
This life is a spiritual struggle. To conquer or to be conquered! If we conquer, we will enjoy the fruits of victory through all eternity. If we are defeated, we will endure the horrors of destruction through all eternity. This life is a duel between man and all that opposes God. God is an almighty Ally to all who sincerely call upon Him for help. “This life is not a joke or a plaything,” says Father John of Kronstadt, “but men turn it into a joke and plaything. The capricious play around with the time given to us for preparing for eternity; they play around with empty words. They gather together as guests, they sit and chatter and after that they sit and play this or that game. They gather in theaters, and there they entertain themselves. All of life is an amusement for them. But woe unto them who do nothing but entertain themselves.”
To contemplate the grace of God the Holy Spirit in the Mystery [Sacrament] of Holy Unction [Anointing with Oil]:
How grace works through the sanctified oil;
How, according to prayer and faith, it heals every illness and infirmity.
About the Mystery [Sacrament] of Holy Unction [Anointing with Holy Oil]
“…And anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them” (St. Mark 6: 13).
The holy apostles did this, and it is commanded that we do the same. The Apostle James writes to us: Is there any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him (St. James 5: 14-15). One must not call anyone except the priests, the elders of the church. One must not anoint him in any other name except the Name of the Lord, so that it will not appear to be witchcraft. No one will be able to raise him except the Lord Himself, neither can anyone forgive his sins except the One Lord. Why oil and not something else? Because it is commanded, and so that we may show obedience and faith. Why is it commanded that we be baptized with water, and anoint [chrismated] with oil [myrrh], and communicated with bread and wine? That is God’s choice and God’s prudence, and it is for us to believe and to obey. Various elements are used in the different Mysteries [Sacraments], but the grace of God is one as our Lord is one, and everything is from the Lord. Why does our Lord need material objects in order to pour out His grace upon us? The Lord does not need material objects, but we do; as long as we are material, we need them. Condescending to our weakness, the Lord uses matter. To the incorporeal angels He gives grace in an incorporeal manner. Oil alone is ineffectyual in itself, just as every other material is ineffectual in itself; but the grace of God is all-powerful. Through oil the Lord gives the grace of His Holy Spirit, and that grace heals the sick, raises the infirm, and restores sanity to the insane. O my brethren, how inexpressible is God’s goodness! What did God not do for us? And what more could we possibly desire? He knew all of our needs beforehand, and He foresaw the cures in advance for all of them. He only seeks from us that we believe in Him and fulfill His prescriptions. Is it not insolent and shameful that we often conscientiously fulfill the prescriptions of physicians, mortal men like us, and neglect the prescriptions of the Immortal God? O All-good Lord, thaw our stony hearts by the power of Your grace, so that before the hour of our death, we may show the gratitude we owe You, O our All- good and our All-wise God!
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.